Brief Impressions of NY Headroom Tour--- Phones and Amps
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delenda est Sony

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Posted this on headphones forum but its roughly 50/50 amps and cans --- mod can decide where to put it...

I was one of the hardy volunteers who worked the NY session of the Headroom tour, which was held in bucolic Tarrytown. Attendance was heavy---Tyll said the most attendees of any of the dates so far, and a few headphone fans even convinced their cute girlfriends to accompany them! Don't worry lads; headphone geekdom is not necessarily a detriment to True Love...


Anyway, Tyll was very charming, the setup easier than might be thought, and the Total Airhead recompense sounds excellent! The experience of hearing all these phones and amps was the main reward though, and I urge all who can to get out and see the remaining stops of the tour...

Some random thoughts:

Beyer 250 --- a phone I was only slightly familiar with, I got a chance to do extensive A/B comparisons between these and the Senn 280s. The two cans sound remarkably similar, with the Beyer sounding warmer. For acoustic music, I thought the Senns much superior, but rock/techno (well actually some kind of dance music anyway, if not exactly techno-- Tylls catalog of demo CDs wasn't that vast!) I liked the Beyers a bit better. Oddly though the Beyer cups were not circumaural on my mid sized ears, but instead rested on top like the V6. The 280s are fully circumaural and so get the edge on isolation. The Senns are also more portable as they fold up, and much ($70) cheaper, so the 280s would have to get my nod.

Beyer 831 & 931 --- great for acoustic music, but lacking tons of bass compared to the 580/600. Considering the high prices, these cans didn't impress me much. I would have loved to hear a 770, but sadly there was not one along on the tour...

Senn 600 cables --- I normally care little about cables and think tales of aural excellence from pricy wires the delusional babbling of those justifying their purchases. However, I do admit the Clou Red and Cardas cables do sound different than the Senn stock 600 cable. The Clou Red was my favorite as I thought it added a bit of warmth and detail. The Cardas seemed equally warm but with no added clarity, and the Clou Blue seemed to make little difference.

AKG phones --- I expected much from these much praised cans and was pretty disappointed. Build quality was quite low, and the sounds were very average. 501s were probably the best AKGs I heard, but for the price I'd still opt for a different brand and model.

Etymotics --- ER4 sounds _way_ better than the ER6! The 4 inserts deeper into the ear as its thinner and also uses a three dome plug versus the stubbier ER6 2 dome design. As a result, a decent seal is far easier to get with the ER4 and as you get more bass and better consistent soundstage quality. Interestingly, the ER6 has virtually no microphonic wire jiggling noise compared to the ER4, but that and cheapness are its only virtues versus the ER4P. I would say the Er6 gives you roughly half the sound of the Er4 for roughly half the price, so moral of the story is that you get what you pay for...Save up for the ER4 unless the $130 price for the ER6 is the absolute most that you want to spend. Even then, if you eventually hear the ER4, you'll be sorry that you went the cheaper route! (like I am...
)

Amps:

Total Airhead sounded a lot better than any of the other portables including the Porta Corda. More dimensionality in the cross feed, better bass, and smoother sound even at low volumes. TA crossfeed seems ideal.

Grado amp --- waste o money. headphone jack is more like it. Adds nothing to sound save volume. A disappointment.

MG Head --- gorgeous inexpensive tube amp sounded great with all music. A wonderful performer from ASL!

Wheatfield/Creek --- eh. Headrooms comparably priced products sounded better. I saw no reason to get these --- even the tube Wheatfields sounded not noticeably better than solid state Headroom models like the Max.

T/A Cosmic and Supreme --- decent sounding amps, but probably better to get a Little with premium component set unless you need portability.

Stax. Orpheus --- very similar sounding to each other. The Orpheus looks better! Both these amp/electrostat combos sounded superb with classical and jazz, but I thought more modern amplified music did not benefit much from either system. If you're planning on buying these and playing AC/DC on em, you may want to rethink...

Carey --- star of the show IMHO. Sounded superb with anything and everything, broadest soundstage and incredible smoothness. This is the one to lust for!

Blockhead --- best bass of any amp at the show. Seemed complex and sounded a bit less rich than the Carey.

Ok, that just about rounds off my thought! Again, great show, Tyll is one of the nicest guys you can meet, and the show was a lot of fun and a great opportunity. Thanks to Tyll and Headroom for a completely positive experience! Good luck on the rest of the tour, and all you guys get out to see 'em!



 
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Toe

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Quote:

Originally posted by delenda est Sony
I would have loved to hear a 770, but sadly there was not one along on the tour...


What? No 770s?!?!
 
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Joe Bloggs

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>> Grado amp --- waste o money. headphone jack is more like it. Adds nothing to sound save volume. A disappointment.

'Adds nothing to sound save volume' would seem to be the ultimate compliment to a headphone amp???
 
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KR...

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Quote:

I was one of the hardy volunteers who worked the NY session of the Headroom tour


Dude, where were you? I was looking for you, ok not all that hard, but I asked, I wind up talking to Tyll and the other volunteer, who was a really nice guy, quite a bit.

Humm, maybe I talked to you too without even knowning it
 
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It is really surprising how much of us like "color" in the sound.
(I'm one of them, all tube fans are even if they don't know it yet.)
We talk about getting the best sound from our gear, but do we really know what that is?
Even a live performance is "colored" by the venue.
 
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Quote:

Originally posted by delenda est Sony

Grado amp --- waste o money. headphone jack is more like it. Adds nothing to sound save volume. A disappointment.



[rant]
Exactly right...and exactly what a headphone amp is supposed to do. It doesn't add to the sound, nor does it subtract from the sound. The better the headphone that you use, the more you appreciate it. This little amp is one of the better amps I've heard for the Sony R10.

Tyll doesn't like it, and has one with a removable bottom that he shows to prove his point...which is exactly the wrong way to do so. He gets off on why is "should" sound a certain why, and loses track of how it really sounds. I KNOW the sound of the RA-1, with a variety of headphones and sources, and when somebody tries to tell me that it's a crappy headphone amp with cheap parts, I react pretty much the same way I do when someone says cables don't make a difference. Take the wool out of your ears and LISTEN. Not with a crappy portable source, but with real equipment.

Tyll's demo in Washington was very convincing that the Cosmic is far better than the RA-1...in camouflaging the faults in a Panny PCDP. Tyll (and others) would have been better served to have never seen the inside of the box, but simply to listen to it before forming an opinion.

This is not to take anything away from Tyll. I like him a lot, and greatly appreciate that he's putting on these demonstrations. However, he also has a tendency to emphasize the engineering aspects of a piece of equipment, to the point where impressive engineering appears more important than the final sound...and that's a problem for someone in his position.

The RA-1 needs a good source, and good headphones. It is one of the best amps I've heard for the Grado RS-1...which it was designed to be...but only with an appropriate source.
[/rant]
 
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delenda est Sony

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Well, I freely admit that I am the side of Bootman and Tyll in this debate... mainly I most enjoy amps that add some degree of coloration and/or crossfeed to sound, and I am fond of clever gadgets. Notice that my favorites at the show were tube amps... Neutrality has its place, which is why there are many different sorts of headphones and amps in the world, so Grado amp fans should not worry. I won't use my <ahem> great influence with Grado to get the wonderful wooden blocky thing discontinued or anything...
I wouldn't (and didn't) call it a "crappy headphone amp with cheap parts". Grado just took a fairly conventional approach to its design that I personally found uninteresting both sonically and technically. Sorry...

Ideally an excellent amp would have the ability to switch crossfeeds and/or filters on and off so the buyer can have it both ways. And I really think Tyll is just as concerned about sound quality as much as engineering --- indeed probably more so with the former. The fact that he has opinions about subjective quality issues is refreshing; it's one of the things that differentiates him from the guy in the headphone/cd section in Best Buy!


KR--- sorry I missed you! I was there for most of the show, but stepped out for a few minutes at a time. I did want to meet you (and anyone else from HeadFi land, but it was of course difficult to recognize people without "Hello My HeadFi Name Is...." tags!

 
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curious, is there an age limit for volunteers? im 17, so im wondering if i am qualified to be a volunteer....
 
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KR...

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Quote:

KR--- sorry I missed you! I was there for most of the show, but stepped out for a few minutes at a time. I did want to meet you (and anyone else from HeadFi land, but it was of course difficult to recognize people without "Hello My HeadFi Name Is...." tags!


I think we did talk without even knowing it
 
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delenda est Sony

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Jlo---

I believe the only qualifier was the number of posts that you have on Head Fi and perhaps secondarily the amount of phones/amps that you are familiar with. If you'll look over in the HeadFi forum here, you'll find the details. Do it if you can, it's lots of fun! This of course assumes that there's anything near you and also that there is still space for volunteers...

good luck!

 
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jlo mein

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hmm....seems too late to volunteer, for the seattle stop they already selected eric343 and a1eyez03, even though i think i am stronger than both of them, strength being a requirement...


would've been fun...but anyway i think i still might try to get down there to check out the gear...
 
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